In the past, confidence, assertiveness, and being decisive were not typically female qualities. These traits are becoming more the norm with women, which is a good thing as it helps women to realize their potential. On the other hand, there can be too much of a good thing. Feeling overly confident about your abilities can also result in increasing , making mistakes and hurting relationships.
What is Behind the Shift in Confidence?
Changes in the way children were raised in the 1960s marked the first time in history it became popular to teach girls they could do anything they wanted and be good at it. Girls had previously been socialized to rely on others. Now in progressive countries, young girls are encouraged to question rules and challenge the status quo. Not only can they rise above the dependence of their mothers, they can make more money than their fathers. In fact, they can make about anything happen when they put their minds to it.
The women in the research for my book, Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction all said that they had someone in their lives-a , teacher, or coach-who told them they were special and that they could do anything. One participant said, "I had an entire support system that acted as life cheerleaders encouraging me and my . I still hear their voices when I face an obstacle telling me I am capable of achieving anything."
In her book Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls, Liz Funk describes how this push for confidence has gotten out of hand. She says many girls now take on the challenge to be extraordinary with a vengeance, constantly pushing themselves to the breaking point.
As they become adults, these girls take their crusade into the, where they look to rise above the crowd quickly and consistently. Another participant told me, "Being a garden-variety success is not good enough for me."
What is the dark side of being so confident?
How Can You Quiet Your Confidence Without Losing Your Edge?
The answer isn't to be less confident. The answer to over-confidence is cultivating, curiosity and courage. This will allow you stay confident while making better personal decisions.
It takes courage, persistence, and curiosity about the present moment to let go of what you think will be the rewards of your self-reliance. You have to let go of "already knowing the answer" or you will miss the well-intentioned help your boss is trying to give you, you will overlook an opportunity to align with a colleague and you will not see creative solutions and unexpected opportunities that show up as you bulldoze down your chosen path.
You need to consciously choose to learn when you think you already know the answers. Because rationalizing your behavior is a survival instinct, the incidence of digging in and justifying your opinion kicks in instantly, much faster than the process for analyzing what is logical and possible. In order to override your lightning-fast rationalizations, you have to deliberately commit to accepting that there is more than one right way to achieve a goal and there is more than one right answer to a question.
One way to adjust your thinking is to practice taking a breath before talking. This pausing technique gives you a moment to better assess the situation. When you breathe before you speak, you free your mind to see that you can respond in more than one way.
If you have presence of mind, you are better able to determine the right path to take from a larger perspective. You are a smart woman. Call on your higherwhen assessing yourself and the situation you are facing.
The Keyword to
Now that you are able to catch yourself being right, bossy or elitist, you can put yourself back on course with a single word.
A keyword is a mental trigger you use to redirect your thoughts in the moment. Do you want to focus on being patient, persuasive, compassionate, innovative, or inspiring? Choose one of these words to be your keyword. Do you want to lighten up and have more fun? Choose a word that makes you smile. Is your purpose to make a difference in people's lives? Then use the keyword, "care."
Choose your keyword, write it down, put it in your car, tape it to your cell phone or laptop, or make it your screensaver. When your day starts to spin out of control, take a breath, center yourself in the moment and fill your head with only your keyword. The keyword unlocks your ability to feel more open and connected.
Being confident is good. You can accomplish most anything you put your mind to. Then if you find that your confidence is causing you to overwork or disconnect from others, practice mindfulness, listening and using your keywords to achieve your success with ease and grace.